Public Safety

Large Fire in Central City still blazing

Fire Departments from around the area called in to assist

Black smoke rises from a fire at IGD Environmental Services in Central City on Thursday, November 24, 2016. (Rebecca Miller / The Gazette).
Black smoke rises from a fire at IGD Environmental Services in Central City on Thursday, November 24, 2016. (Rebecca Miller / The Gazette).
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CENTRAL CITY — A storage building containing oil waste, magnesium and solvents at Iowa Gold Distributing Environmental Services in Central City continues to burn this afternoon as firefighters from multiple area departments attempt to contain the blaze.

Large plumes of black and white smoke were visible for miles from the oil recycling company at 600 Iehl Road, off Highway 13, near Central City Road. The fire started about 8 a.m. Thursday, according to the Linn County Sheriff’s Office.

Linn County Sheriff’s Sgt. S.A. Humphrey said in a news release one firefighter was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital for a possible life threatening medical issue during the blaze.

No other injuries were reported at the scene but half a dozen explosions occurred throughout the morning as the firefighters were trying to bring the fire under control.

The Central City fire chief was asking Central City residents to close their windows and doors, and to turn off their furnaces, due to the fire. There is some concerns about what chemicals could be in the plumes of smoke.

The cause of the blaze hasn’t been determined and remains under investigation by the Linn County Sheriff’s Office and the Central City Fire Department, Humphrey said in the release. The State Fire Marshal’s Office was also contacted by Central City fire to assist with the investigation.

The area departments responding to the fire are from Central City, Alburnett, Troy Mills, Cedar Rapids, Marion, Coggon and Robins. Linn County Sheriff’s deputies and Rescue 57, along with the Iowa State Highway Patrol, Center Point Ambulance Service and Linn County Haz-Mat were at the scene assisting with the blaze.

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As firefighters took breaks from battling the blaze, wives and relatives of the crews were on hand to provide sandwiches, chips and water to keep them going. One of the women said the community and local grocery store, Leftys, had donated food for the fire crews.

Mark Ries of Mark Ries Trucking Inc., owner of business next door to IGD, said this wasn’t how he expected his Thanksgiving to start. Ries, who lives in Toddville, came out to check on his Central City building after receiving a call from one of his employees about 8:30 a.m.

“We had to move this trailer and some other vehicles back from the fire,” Ries said earlier watching the flames. “It’s fortunate we didn’t have any problems. I don’t think they’ve (IGD) had any fires in the past.”

Officials at the scene indicated the fire could burn for days. At one point in the morning, the crews stopped using water and started using flame retardant “foam,” commonly used at airports, to suffocate the flames.

l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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